Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The hardware of Android

I was reading a post by one of the lead developers for Honeycomb, the version of Android specifically tailored for tablets. He mentioned a some good points, none which this is about, but I found myself down in the comments section as I am want to do. It was here that someone mentioned the fact hardware manufacturers are moving too slow (in contrast to the belief many have which Google is moving to quick) and I agree. It wasn't until the Nexus One that manufacturers stepped up their game on hardware. Hell, if it wasn't for Android and the iPhone, I doubt we would be at the technological advance we are in mobile devices, dual core phones coming and all.

Anyway, someone mentioned that the manufacturers are practically going bankrupt on manufacturing these Android phones. For one, I think this is patently false. An independent website that analyzes the cost of hardware estimated that the cost of my Nexus One would be around $275 (at the time of its release, obviously a lot cheaper now) when the phone costed $530 off contract which is typical of high end cell phones. Subsidized prices I don't take into account because the difference is paid into by the carrier.

From here the post mentioned the fact some of the limitations of the Galaxy Tab compared to the iPad and the fact Samsung could only get the price down by $30. There's seems to be a big fallacy here. Couldn't the real truth be more likely Samsung is just attempting to maximize profits as much as possible? The reality of the situation is the Tab's main cost is the Super AMOLED screen which hasn't reduced itself in price enough to be totally affordable or even profitable. Obviously if you look around you don't see TVs with the technology or even laptops with it. The cost is simply too much right now.

However, even if the screen is the most costly thing about the tablet, it doesn't account for the fact the rest of it is rather cheap. Next in line would be the System-on-Chip with the processor, but after that, the majority of the hardware is cheap things like cameras. One must also remember there really is only one Galaxy Tab while there are several variations of the iPad which can go as high as $830, more than the cost of my laptop.

To think the hardware manufacturers are going bankrupt or barely recouping costs is just plain silly. They wouldn't sell their products at a loss now would they? (Obviously new tech like the Playstation 3 sold at a loss for a time, but Sony had the ridiculous capital to take the risk) What kind of capitalist business sense would that make? No, the only reason the hardware manufacturers are behind the times is because they are greedy.

We've had 1 GHz chips since late 2009, but they're not in every cell phone running Android right now. Why? Surely the cost must have came down since then. One has to consider the fact shoving an old 528 MHz 2005 processor into a 2011 phone must not cost a great deal. Then, consider the mark up when sold to the carriers for subsidization or consumers buying unlocked. The carrier recoups their cost on your contract. You're stuck in a 2-year contract with a low end phone while the manufacturer churns out new phones every three months.

Look, there's nothing wrong with making a profit. It's largely what America is based on. However, we're not talking about me only making $5 profit off a deal, but companies making millions and sometimes billions of dollars of profit. These companies are not hurting and I find it extremely disingenuous when manufacturers and carriers keep bringing out low-end tech which should have passed on a long time ago or high end tech with outdated software. So yeah, manufacturers aren't bringing out tech fast enough to keep up with Android because they keep recycling the same old tech. Of course, then you get the carriers wanting outdated versions of Android on their phones which is why you can see how disastrously out of whack Android is becoming.

This is why I stick with the Nexus phones. Google wanted to change the American way of purchasing phones in favor of the European way, but unfortunately, America is just too stupid right now. Maybe someday we'll figure it out the carriers are pitting us against the manufacturers and roadblocking us from purchasing whatever phone we want. In the meantime, I'll enjoy my timely updates of Android.

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